Harare – Smaller opposition parties in Zimbabwe on Tuesday signed a coalition agreement in Harare, dubbed the Coalition of Democrats (CODE) which is expected to see them field and support one candidate for President and other positions, from local government elections up to legislators.
The agreement was signed by Democratic Assembly for Restoration of the Economy (DARE) President, Gilbert Dzikiti, MDC-N President, Welshman Ncube, Mavambo Khusile Dawn (MKD) President Simba Makoni, Renewal Democrats President, Elton Mangoma, and Zimbabwe United for Democracy (ZUNDE) President Farai Mbire.
People’s Democratic President, Tendai Biti and ZAPU Secretary for Information and Publicity, Mjobisa Noko were at the signing ceremony and gave solidarity messages although they did not sign the agreement.
The MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai, which is the biggest opposition party in the country, and the newly formed Zimbabwe People First led by deposed Vice-President, Joice Mujuru, were conspicuous by their absence.
Mujuru was said to have shown interest in the coalition but was waiting for the party’s congress expected in August to give the green light to sign the agreement.
“Today I have the greatest honour bestowed on me by my fellow Presidents up here with me to announce a new narrative and write a new chapter for the people of Zimbabwe,” Dzikiti, who currently chairs the coalition, said.
“We are gathered here to sign a coalition agreement among political parties here present. These political parties have seen it fit and proper to come together and work for the common good of Zimbabweans,” he added.
Dzikiti said the political party leaders had put their political differences aside to resolve the crisis in the country, which was reeling under deepening poverty levels, economic collapse and high unemployment.
“CODE was worked on the basis that no one should be excluded. There are some who have indicated that they are in internal consultations. We look forward to the day when they will be able to add their signatures to CODE,” he said.
Dzikiti said the leadership of CODE was committed and able to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis as they had a proven record of making things work.
“We are united by the common objective to work together as compatriots to achieve a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe, fully respected as a member of the community of nations,” he said.
The coalition will field candidates using a distinctive symbol and logos separate from their own political parties, according to the agreement.
The CODE will have a governing council consisting of all the Presidents of the member political parties and two other senior leaders from each political party.
Political analyst, Pedzisai Ruhanya, said while the coalition was a good starting point, the absence of Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party and People First was a major setback as they had the numbers necessary to win an election.
“The fundamental strength of this group that met is that it represents the technical component of the opposition in Zimbabwe. They are talking about Professor Welshman Ncube, you cannot doubt
his technical competence in terms of understanding the issues of democracy and issues of electoral processes, the same applies to Biti and Mangoma,” he said.
“So they need to marry the technical, or what I call techno democracy, these are techno democrats, democrats who understand the technical aspect of democratic processes. But what they lack is the political; they need to marry the techno aspect with the political represented by other forces led by the MDC led by Tsvangirai and Mujuru. That is people who have a huge presence in the community.
“So in order to become a complete coalition that has the technical aspect of running an election and the political aspect of mobilising the numbers, because elections is also a quantitative game, it is a game of numbers,” he added.
Ruhanya said Mujuru and her People First were also necessary in the coalition because they had a greater understanding of how the ruling Zanu-PF regime operated.
“They have a better understanding of how Zanu-PF operated because they were part of the manipulative architecture of the state before they left Zanu; so we need the Mujurus and company because the conditions that are prevailing are the kind of conditions where the opposition thrives.
“So everybody is needed,” he said.
He said if Tsvangirai and Mujuru were excluded, they would all die politically.
“If they don’t unite, they die. Not only does Tsvangirai die, so will Biti and Makoni. If they go in a fractious state, they will all die, Tsvangirai and his numbers will also die, Biti with his technical capacity, Welsh with his technical capacity, they will all die and Zanu will thrive.
“So what they need to understand is everyone is needed, even if grasshoppers become voters, you should seek to have those grasshoppers to be part of the organisation,” he said.
Another political analyst, Rejoice Ngwenya, said what the country needed now was not a coalition, but an electoral pact between the political parties.
“What is important is to unite for an electoral pact than having a coalition because it involves sharing of candidates by parties. What we want is to dilute Zanu-PF and get them out of the matrix first, and then decide on a coalition later.”
He said individuals who were entertaining any hopes of going it alone and defeating Zanu-PF were wasting their time as it was not possible.
Alexander Rusero, another political analyst, said Zimbabwe was not yet ready for a coalition and what was rather needed was to create a level playing field to ensure the country held credible elections.